Dear Amicus Agony,
I have been in practice for about three years and have been working mostly with this one particular senior associate. Through the course of working with him, I have come to discover (and most of the other juniors in the team are also aware) that he is quite lazy and incompetent. He always leaves before 6pm, gives work to the juniors even though we are all extremely busy and does not seem very willing to help out and has (many times) provided me with wrong advice which I only discovered at a later stage. He also is very rude and likes to talk down to us. It has reached a point where I have no respect for him and dread going to work as I hate dealing with him. However, the senior partner seems to like him and I am afraid he will make partner and make my life worse. What should I do?
Dear Unamused Subordinate,
It must be frustrating having to deal with someone like this in the team. While speaking to another partner about this situation would be a potential solution, there is the obvious risk that they would not take your side and the news that you have gossiped about this senior associate might spread. What might be a more subtle approach is to try and see if there are other partners/senior associates in the team you can do work for. You would need to be proactive with this but the hope is that once another senior starts working with you more regularly, you can turn down work from this senior associate. However, assuming this is not a viable solution (for example if you do not have any other potential seniors in the team), then it would probably be time to start looking around for another firm. You are never guaranteed a nice senior but at minimum, they should be able to impart knowledge and teach you (whether directly or indirectly). This is perhaps one of the most important requirements for a junior lawyer looking to make a move to another firm. Your formative years as a lawyer is key and you would not want to waste them in a place where you are not learning from your seniors or worse being taught the wrong thing.
All the best!
Dear Amicus Agony,
After a few years in practice, I feel like I have lost the motivation to practice law. I do not find myself finding meaning in or being passionate about the work I do. I am rather bored and am thinking of leaving the profession altogether. However, I feel trapped as I do not necessarily have the skill set to work in a non-legal sector or role. Any ideas?
Your feelings are natural and a lot of us who have been in practice have gone through the same thought process. I think it is important to ask yourself what made you choose to do law in the first place and what gave you the drive in the first few years of your career. It is also helpful to think about what aspects of your job you enjoy or gives you satisfaction (I hope there is at least one thing). For some, it is helping clients or building a relationship with their clients whilst for others, it might be mentoring the junior lawyers or being actively involved and providing suggestions to improving the team (or firm) and its culture. It might then be helpful to talk to your partner to figure out how you can get more involved in these areas you enjoy which might increase the satisfaction you get out of work. However, if all the above fails, then my suggestion is to think whether your unhappiness comes from the firm you are at rather than the practice of law itself. You might discover it is the former and that you actually enjoy practice or even in-house work if you find the right firm or company which is a good fit for you. In-house is also a place where you usually end up being involved in the business of the company as opposed to just legal work. This might suit you better or minimally act as a stepping stone to transition into a less legal-focused job. Regardless of what you choose, it is important to also remember that there are many other things you can do outside of work that can give you meaning or that makes life interesting such as doing pro bono work, picking up a new hobby or spending time with friends and family over the weekend. Hope this was helpful!